Panthers hold on for homecoming win
For the third game in a row, the Park Rapids football team was held scoreless in the second half.
Fortunately, for the third game in a row, the Panthers were victorious despite being kept out of the end zone after the intermission.
Thanks to a defense that allowed only 184 total yards and five first downs, the Panthers were able to cap off homecoming week with a 14-12 Heart O’Lakes Conference and Section 8AAA victory over Pequot Lakes Friday night at Vern Weekley Field.
Neither team managed much offense the entire game as the Panthers were forced to punt four times, tuned the ball over twice and lost possession on downs three times on 12 possessions while Pequot Lakes punted six times, had one turnover and lost possession on downs three times on 11 possessions.
“This is the third game in a row that we haven’t scored in the second half,” said Park Rapids head coach Aaron Morris. “We’ve scored early, but we haven’t been able to score late. We have to find a way to score early and late. Offensively we didn’t click, but defensively the guys stepped up. They came to hit and made the plays when we needed them. The defense played a great game.”
After exchanging punts to open the game, the Panthers used a 19-yard run by Jon Burlingame to march into Pequot Lakes territory before losing possession on downs at the 22.
On the next play, Burlingame recovered a fumble at the 31 and the Panthers capitalized when Tyler McCollum hit Drew Bade on a 27-yard scoring play. An 11-yard pass from McCollum to Derek Porozinski set up the touchdown. The extra-point kick failed, but the Panthers had a 6-0 lead with 3:26 to play in the first quarter.
On the Panthers’ next series, Connor Davich intercepted a pass at the Pequot Lakes 37. Justin Mackenthun broke free for a 63-yard touchdown as the Patriots tied the game at 6-6 with 11:41 to play in the first half.
Both teams exchanged punts before the Panthers took the lead for good with an eight-play, 41-yard drive. McCollum hit Noah MacPherson on an 11-yard route and an 8-yard route and Rilee Johnson rushed for 11 yards as the Panthers reached the Pequot Lakes 9. Two plays later, McCollum found MacPherson over the middle for a 10-yard TD. Those two connected on the conversion as Park Rapids led 14-6 with 3:59 to play in the first half.
The Patriots mounted a scoring threat before the half when Shae Zeidler gained 15 yards on fourth-and-1 at the Park Rapids 46 and C.J. Borleis hit Mackenthun on a 29-yard route to the Park Rapids 2. However, a holding penalty during that play pushed the Patriots back to the 25. Park Rapids’ defense held and the Panthers entered the break with the lead.
Park Rapids attempted an onside kick to open the second half, but the Patriots recovered at its own 47. A holding penalty forced Pequot Lakes to punt.
Ben Baumgartner followed a 14-yard run with a 10-yard gain as the Panthers reached the Pequot Lakes 37. That drive stalled and the Panthers were forced to punt. The Patriots blocked the kick and Cody Kettleson picked up the loose ball and returned it to the Park Rapids 5. Three plays later, Zeidler plunged in from the 1. The conversion failed as the Panthers clung to a 14-12 lead with 5:19 to play in the third quarter.
Pequot Lakes’ defense delivered another big play when Chad Christianson intercepted a pass at the 30 and returned it to the Park Rapids 24. A fumble on third down helped end that drive.
McCollum hit MacPherson on a 40-yard route as the Panthers drove to the Pequot Lakes 35. Three incomplete passes ended that drive.
Following three punts, the Panthers mounted a threat when McCollum hit MacPherson for 13 yards and Baumgartner for 18 yards to overcome a second-and-27 situation. That drive stalled at the Pequot Lakes 31 with 3:43 to play.
The Patriots marched into Park Rapids territory as Zeidler rushed four times for 27 yards to the Panthers’ 41. Kurt Fritze tackled Zeidler behind the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-5 and the Panthers ran out the final 1:24 to preserve the win.
McCollum completed 12 of 21 passes for 164 yards with MacPherson making six receptions for 101 yards. Baumgartner led the ground game by rushing 17 times for 52 yards as the Panthers compiled 249 yards in total offense.
Zeidler rushed 24 times for 81 yards while Mackenthun had 67 yards on five carries as the Patriots fell to 1-2 in the conference and 2-2 overall.
“We didn’t play our best ball, but we found a way to win,” said Morris, whose team improved to 3-1. “Going into the season I thought we could be 3-1 at the halfway point. We’re right there. The kids believe they can go out there and win. It wasn’t the prettiest win, but we’ll take it.”
The Panthers will put their three-game winning streak on the line by traveling to Thief River Falls Friday night. Kickoff in this conference battle is set for 6 p.m.
Pequot Lakes 0 6 6 0…12
Park Rapids 6 8 0 0...14
PR-D. Bade 27 pass from McCollum (kick failed)
PL-Mackenthun 63 run (kick failed)
PR-MacPherson 10 pass from McCollum (MacPherson pass from McCollum)
PL-Zeidler 1 run (run failed)
First downs 5 9
Rushes-yards 33-152 38-85
Passing 3-10-0 12-21-2
Passing yards 32 164
Total yards 184 249
Penalties-yards 7-45 5-30
Fumbles-lost 2-1 2-0
RUSHING. Pequot Lakes: Zeidler 24-81, Mackenthun 5-67, Borleis 4-4. Park Rapids: Baumgartner 17-52, Johnson 7-22, McCollum 2-8, Burlingame 8-5, R. Hagan 4-0.
PASSING. Pequot Lakes: Borleis 3-10-0 for 32 yards. Park Rapids: McCollum 12-21-2 for 164 yards.
RECEIVING. Pequot Lakes: Mackenthun 2-19, Jacobson 1-13. Park Rapids: MacPherson 6-101, Bade 2-28, Baumgartner 1-16, Porozinski 1-11, Burlingame 1-4, Johnson 1-2.